[lg policy] Dissertation: A Conversation Analytic Approach to Practiced Language Policies:

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 17 15:12:00 UTC 2011

Dissertation Title: A Conversation Analytic Approach to Practiced
Language Policies:
The example of an induction classroom for newly-arrived immigrant
children in France

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Discourse Analysis

Dissertation Director(s):
Joseph Gafaranga
Brian Parkinson

Dissertation Abstract:

Traditionally, language policy (LP) has been conceptualised as a notion separate
from that of practice. That is, language practices have usually been studied
with a view to evaluate the extent to which a LP is (or is not) implemented
(e.g. Martin, 2005; Johnson, 2009). Recently, however, Spolsky (2004, 2007,
2008a) has argued that policy and practice need not be seen as distinct and
that, in fact, there is policy in language practices themselves (I use the term
'practiced language policy'). Therefore, Spolsky's claim represents a decisive
development in the field of LP research. However, this proposal remains
essentially programmatic since Spolsky does not indicate how practiced language
policies can be investigated. The aim of this thesis is to address this
methodological gap. The main claim of the thesis is that Conversation Analysis
(CA) - a method specifically developed to describe conversational practices -
can be used to investigate practiced language policies. In order to support this
claim, a case study has been conducted on the language practices of an induction
classroom for newly-arrived immigrant children in France.

In the thesis, a broad view of CA is adopted, incorporating both sequential and
categorisation analysis (Membership Categorisation Analysis). More specifically,
I have used the conversation analytic approach to code-switching (as developed
over the last few years by researchers such as Auer, 1984; Li Wei, 2002;
Gafaranga, 2009; Bonacina and Gafaranga, 2010) and investigated a corpus of
audio-recorded classroom interactions I collected in the above mentioned
setting. Observation of these interactions revealed a number of 'norms of
interaction' (Hymes, 1972) the classroom participants orient to in order to go
about the routine business of talking in an orderly fashion. For example, it was
observed that each of the languages available can potentially be adopted as the
'medium of classroom interaction' (Bonacina and Gafaranga, 2010) depending on
who is doing being the language teacher. When no one is doing being the language
teacher, it was observed, a key determinant of language choice is participants'
language preference. Finally, in the absence of any shared preferred language,
French was adopted. The practiced language policy of this induction classroom
consists of the set of such interactional norms. It is because CA can be used to
discover and describe such interactional norms that this thesis claims it can be
used to investigate practiced language policies in this induction classroom and
in other settings as well.

In summary, this thesis is primarily a contribution to the field of LP research.
It starts from recent proposals in the field, especially by Spolsky (2004, 2007,
2008a), that there is policy in practices and shows how this programmatically
formulated proposal can be implemented. More specifically the thesis shows that
and how CA can be used to discover a practiced language policy. The research
reported here has adopted a case study methodology, investigating language
choice practices in a multilingual educational setting. It therefore contributes
to the study of bilingual classroom talk, albeit indirectly. This is
particularly the case as there has been very few, if any, studies of bilingual
classroom talk which combine both sequential and categorisation analysis.


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